Monday, December 22, 2008

Issue By Issue: Bill Willingham's Fables

#12 A Sharp Operation: Part One Of a Two-part Caper

Writer: Bill Willingham. Pencils: Lan Medina. Inks: Craig Hamilton. Letters: Todd Klein. Colours: Daniel Vozzo. Cover: James Jean.

pp 01-03 A Fabled Narcoleptic

An alternate title for this section is Nap Time At Tiffany’s. Briar Rose, of Sleeping Beauty fame, pricked her finger on a piece of jewellery at the famed store and everyone, customer and clerks alike, were soon asleep. Bigby isn’t impressed, but Briar insists there’s nothing she can do. The curse followed her from the Homelands. Briar Rose was the name given Sleeping Beauty by the Brothers Grimm, but she didn’t originate with Black Forest folklore. Their version came from the writings of the French author Charles Perrault, who gave us many of the characters we’ve already seen: Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Bluebeard, Puss N’ Boots, and some we’ll go on to meet. Perrault based his story on an Italian tale called The Sun and the Moon and Talia, written by Giambattista Basile. Actually, Basile also wrote versions of Cinderella and Puss N’ Boots.

Bigby’s concern is discovery. Something like this could lead to the mundies asking questions and that could lead to the community being revealed. She is a wealthy woman, he reminds her. She can afford to have people go through her apartment ensuring there are no sharp objects. She can get away with eccentricities like wearing thick gloves year round.

Their meeting is cut short. Someone wants to see Bigby. A mundy is asking for him by name.

p 04 A Charmed Life

The bloom has worn off for Prince Charming and his current mundy girlfriend. She kicks him out, but he isn’t exactly grieving. Frankly, he can’t even remember her name.

pp 05-08 Vampires Among Us

The mundy’s name is Tommy Sharp. He’s a columnist for the New York Daily News and lately he has been furthering his journalistic credentials with a little investigative journalism. He has made an exhaustive study of the Woodlands community. He knows they’ve owned the whole block since the days of New Amsterdam. He has photographic evidence, going back to the beginnings of photography, showing that none of them age. Bigby tries to put him off with taunts about Elvis, but Sharp has visions of Nobel prizes dancing before his eyes (though there is no Nobel prize for journalism). He has uncovered a community of immortals and that can only mean one thing! Vampires! Vampires? Bigby tries to laugh that one off, but Sharp won’t be dissuaded. He has even seen Bigby assume animal form. A wolf, of course. Sharp has come forward because he wants their side of the story. He wants an interview. He doesn’t get one.

pp 09-22 Silencing Mr. Sharp

Bigby isn’t laughing once Sharp is gone. Far from it. He convenes a meeting with Jack, Bluebeard, Blue Boy, and Flycatcher. Why these men? There doesn’t seem to be a specific reason. They are characters we’ve met before, however, so no time needs to be taken up introducing new people. The flying monkey there, but the meeting is in Snow’s office and he works in the office. He isn’t going to be a part of this rescue mission. Snow is not there. While she is still recovering, Bigby wants to keep her out of messes like this.

Bluebeard says they should just shoot Sharp. Bigby isn’t offended by the idea, but he does worry that it won’t be enough. In the information age just killing the messenger is no guarantee the message won’t get out. Time is everything and the Wolf wants to move that very night; he just needs Charming and Briar.

Before they act, Bluebeard calls Jack to his apartment. He gives Jack a gun. If Bigby’s plan fails, they’ll need a Plan B. He is obviously trying to subvert the sheriff.

Plan A is pretty neat. Charming and Briar make their way into the lobby of Sharp’s apartment, telling the doorman that they are there for a party. Unfortunately, they can’t tell him which apartment it is in because Charming left the invitation in the coach. He leaves Briar waiting and she takes out a pin and pricks her finger. Soon everyone in the building is out. It’s a strategy that will come in handy again later. Bigby and the rest wait for the thorns to grow (the sign that it is safe to enter without being overwhelmed by the spell) and then set to work stripping Sharp’s apartment of every bit of evidence they can get their hands on. Sharp himself is found sitting on the toilet. Jack uses his computer skills to make the needed deletions and makes a terrible discovery. Sharp has emailed out his evidence in order to keep it safe. They won’t be able to get it in the time they have.

The title describes this as a caper and it seems an apt description. We get to see the Fables address a problem they must face pretty often, living in the center of a major city (though in their meeting they imply the last time they were discovered was in the 1920s). And we also get to see the return of the original Fables artist, Lan Medina. As threats go Sharp doesn’t seem like much of one. From his ‘you’re all vampires’ confrontation to finding him sitting on the toilet, he comes across as too pathetic to be a real threat, but the real tension seems to be coming from Bluebeard. It seems he still hasn’t forgotten how he was treated two arcs ago, when Bigby uncovered his wedding plans, and now that Plan A has run into a wall, it all comes down to which Plan B will go forward. But that’s the next issue.

No comments: